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Map of Oakland Taco Trucks and Street Carts

I’ve been in the Oakland area recently and put together this map of taco trucks for myself using mostly tips I read on Chowhound. Others might find it useful.

Whenever anyone asks about taco trucks the answer is search the board for lots of recs … well, yeah … but finding the SIGNIFICANT recs can be a pain.

So there I’d be in Oakland and … uh … now was THIS a good truck or not? What is good to order? What to avoid? What hasn’t been tried?

The Chowhound Guide to the SF Bay Area has come in VERY handy a number of times, but it mainly has the crème de la crème in terms of picks. What were the other very good joints?

In a reply to this topic I’ll list the significant taco discussions and link to all the Place records

There are a few places on my map but not in Places because I couldn’t confirm the exact location like the Taco House and Pipirin, a stall that sells barbacoa near a church.

Actually there aren’t as many taco trucks as estimated. There are about 20 not counting street carts. The “A” list is really only these trucks

El Gordo 4201 International Blvd
El Gordo #2 at International and 42nd (evenings and weekends only)
El Novillo 1001 Fruitvale Ave, (in parking lot of Guadalahara Restaurant)
El Ojo De Aqua taco truck Fruitvale Ave & E 13th St
El Ojo de Agua #2 Taco Truck International Blvd & 104th Ave
Mi Grullense trucks International Blvd & 30th Ave (in Goodwill Store Lot)
Sinaloa Taco Trucks and Taqueria International Blvd & 22nd Ave

The “B” list are under-reported … a few might no longer exist.

Barajitos Taco Truck 2900 Broadway (in front of Grocery Outlet)
El Grullo Foothill Blvd & High St
El Grullo International Blvd & 26th Ave
El Jalicience Hegenberger Rd & Baldwin St
El Tio Juan, Foothill and 41st
Guadalajara International Blvd & 44th Ave
El Mazatlan Foothill Blvd & Fruitvale Ave
La Pinata 720 High ST (at Coliseum Way)
La Ultima Cena truck at 98th near the DMV
Los Michoacanos taco truck 3541 International Blvd (near 35th)
Mi Rancho Taco Truck 1st Ave & 1st Ave Pl (where International Ave ends near Lake Merrit)
Playa Azul taco truck Fruitvale and E 12th
Tacos Alonzo, at Foothill Boulevard and 27th
Taco’s Barajito located on West Grand and Adeline
Tacos El Sol E 14th St & High St
Tacos La Perla International Blvd & 52nd Ave
Tacos Los Amigos 5401 International Blvd (corner of 54th)
Tacos Mayra (driveway, south side of 1500 block of Fruitvale)
Tacos Zamorano International Blvd & 48th Ave
Tio Tino International Blvd & 40th Ave Oakland, CA

In this case the “C” list stands for “CARTS”. There are a zillion carts but I just was interested in a few that may or may not be different from the rest

Champurrado Cart International Blvd between 42nd Ave & 41st Ave next to Smart & Final
Dulceria Morella International Blvd & 44th Ave
Ricos Churros Cart International Blvd & 38th Ave
Tamales Colma cart International Blvd & 30th Ave (across from Goodwill)

I love Google maps. I’ve finally organized places (not only food) in one convenient place. I have my map of historic places ... map of great shopping ... plus a lot of food maps like Bay Area European Food, North Bay Farms, Salinas Taco Trucks, etc, etc.

Most people don’t follow the links, but the map is there if anyone is interested. It was for me to avoid the calories of a bad selection, make sure I was zoning in on the hyperdelicious and exploring uncharted territory.

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  1. I created a Chow list of Oakland taco trucks which is easier to read and get to

    The details are briefer, but there are still best bets for eats at each truck. See Google map for details.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      In the East Bay Express today, John Birdsall reviewed 21 Fruitvale taco trucks

      There's some interesting stuff in there that I didn't know such as

      "Citywide, Oakland's loncheras number more than a hundred, says Aracely Garza, director of the Asociacion de Comerciantes Mobiles, a local taquero organization"

      Didn't realize there were that many. I only identified a little over 30 in my map.

      I have noticed from eating at Brown Sugar Kitchen that that section of Oakland has quite a few taco trucks. I just haven't got to them yet. A lot of them are mobile rather than stationary though, stopping at the many businesses in that industrial nabe.

      LIked the term "tacotarians". Soy tacotarian.

      Some interesting history tracing the first lonchera to the 1890's in Texas.

      The first Oakland truck is identified as El Zamorano in the 1980's.

      Didn't know at some trucks you can ask for frijoles de la olla which are pot beans ... though unless I missed it he doesn't say which one

      1. re: rworange

        I recognize that there are different tastes for different folks, but I was a bit disappointed with this piece -- largely for disparaging El Ojo de Agua, which is among my local favs.

        1. re: rworange

          The 100 figure doesn't surprise me at all -- when I was at the height of my taco trucking a few years ago I estimated there were between 75 and 100 in the greater Oakland area (including parts of Berkeley and San Leandro).

      2. Updates: as of 11/5, the Los Michoacanos Taco Truck (previously 3541 International) has moved to a lot directly across the street (still the 3500 block of International).

        The El Grullo truck that was formerly on the corner of High and Foothill has moved to the lot on the 4000 block that has in various incarnations been Tio Tono, Casa Maria, etc. I talked to the guy there, and he confirmed that El Grullo has a fleet of four trucks (the permanent truck location is the one at 26th and International) and a bricks-and-morter location at 2630 Foothill. He said he had worked for them for 20 years! The lot itself and the former restaurant are under contruction for what appears to be a new multi-storefront development. I don't know if the truck is there all day during construction or not.

        I tried the carnitas at the Zamorano truck, and they are excellent, of the drier but more carmelized style than the more unctuous El Novillo style.

        I was showing around a visitor and we had a nice talk with the guy at La Torta Loca (which seems to have fallen off the map a little). He's from D.F. and he says that tinga (which is not a common offering in Fruitvale) is more of a D.F. thing. He also had a very nice champurrado which he described as being made with cornmeal, chocolate, vanilla, piloncillo and "other things."

        The tripas taco at El Novillo was once again stellar. Since I'm not really an offal person, it's taken me a while to realize that the translation of "tripas" as "chitterlings" is in fact correct, since what's being served is not what is generally called "tripe" in English (beef stomach) but rather hog intestines.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Ruth, the El Grullo truck in the construction site was there Monday at lunch. My alternate stomach (the SO) was not feeling great so didn't get to try them, but they were there amongst the two by fours.

          1. re: grayelf

            Thanks, greyelf! I'm looking forward to reading about your Fruitvale day!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I'm looking forward to writing it up but most likely not till the weekend. I've only had time for one quick report about my trip so far here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5398... but much more to come, I promise. I'll start new threads to keep things on topic.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Grayelf, you're such a sweetie! Great report.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Muchisimas gracias, eres muy amable. I just wish the SO's tummy had been up to trying more as I feel we hardly scratched the surface of tasty options... next time.

        2. Good God, man. You've got the makings of a book here. Or at the least, a great Web site ... As the young folks say, mash it up, baby ...

          Sushi Monster

          1. your taco obsessivness is AWESOME!!! My sister and I were just discussing tacomania ourseselves last night.

            1. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
              I am putting these into my blackberry. That is a lot of work Sushimonster is right you and Ruth need to put a book togther. Thanks

              I love El Gordo #2 and no wonder I did not find it a few Sat. back since it is a weekday truck only. My issue is I often like one particular item but the salsa is not to my liking, and I like the salsa of another and not the food as much. Very few do both to perfection.. BYOS!

              1. The other El Gordo truck seems to be the same address. Is it actually a different truck? And it is it open on weekdays?

                Do any of the trucks actually have al pastor on a spit? Or would that be a health code violation?

                9 Replies
                1. re: DezzerSF

                  El Gordo #2 has al pastor on a vertical spit (the kind more typically used for gryos). It is not a weekday truck -- it's an evenings and weekends truck (when the business its lot it uses is closed). I don't know how early it's there on the weekends, though.

                  A few other notes:

                  These trucks are gone:

                  Tio Tono
                  Playa Azul
                  I haven't seen Tacos El Sol for a while, but it seems unlikely that lot will go taco truckless for long. I think I've seen all of the other Fruitvale ones recently
                  There is now a taco truck parked on the west side of High St. north of International. It's called something like El Paisano, but I haven't tried it. There's also a taco truck called something like Tacos Oaxaca that's parked in a driveway off Kennedy (the street that the 23rd Ave exit from southbound 880 dumps you onto) -- it's okay, nothing exciting. The most far-flung taco truck I've tried recently was parked at the foot of Gilman, where it deadends into the Bay past Golden Gate fields. Again, only okay, but convenient if, like me, you walk your dog in that area. There's usually at least one truck on Coliseum Way near the flea market during the day on weekends -- notable for also having big barrels of agua frescas out front and raspados.

                  I haven't seen the rogue churro vendor at 38th and International for a long time -- there are now legal churro carts, but they aren't as good (Melanie said something about how the batter the health department approves doesn't have as much egg as the really good ones).

                  The two locations for El Gordo are the same.

                  The address for El Ojo is wrong -- it should be E. 12th (where Playa Azul used to be), not E.13th

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    What do you think of the truck parked behind the carwash and paint store, on High Street just over the bridge in Oakland? It is there M-Sat and may be called Estralita? I have made several visits for tacos and burritos (I try to remember to specify no lettuce in the burritos, I really don't like that) and like their meats, especially the lengua and carnitas. Yesterday I had a breakfast burrito of chorizo, egg and cheese that was pretty good but needed some hot sauce. I'd be interested in your opinion ~

                    1. re: foodfan

                      Good catch -- I forgot about that one and I haven't tried it. I'm always up for good carnitas, though, so I'll check it out.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I did check it out -- worth a stop. Here's the places link, where you can find my report. There's also now a FroYo place next door!

                        Tacos Estrellas
                        4169 Alameda Ave, Oakland, CA

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Thanks I updated Places and my map.

                      So Tio Tono didn't make it the second time around? IIRC it was replaced by Casa Maria which sounded like it had promise but moved. Casa Maria might be either in San Leandro or Hayward right now.

                      That truck near Golden Gate Fields on Gillman in Berkeley is Tacos Pihuano. The most notable thing about it was that they serve cachete or beef cheeks. I was curious how this differed from cabeza so asked on the general board

                      I didn't post about the truck because I didn't pay much attention at the time. I was trying to avoid traffic and taking the back roads to SF so it was a quick stop. I wanted to go back and see if they had both cabeza and cachete on the menu and I was going to order one of each to see if there was a difference. Haven't seen it since. They may only be there on race days?

                      I remember you mentioning that cabeza was beef cheeks and though I have yet to try cabeza anywhere it seems from the answer on the general board that there could be all parts of the cabeza in there ... like eyes ... and brains. It is going to take me a while to work up to that.

                      The cachete was pretty good - rich, silky, tender with some colegen. a tiny taco with grilled onions and sprinkles of cilantro. Didn't taste like the beef cheeks at Coco500 at all.

                      So is there only one El Gordo or did I make a mistake on the address?

                      1. re: rworange

                        There's only one El Gordo -- 4201 International is the same as 42nd and International and the truck is number two because it's the owner's second truck (actually, it's a wagon: it's towed, not self-propelled).

                        Oh, and El Paisa is gone -- they built something on that lot, and I don't know if it moved elsewhere or just close down permanently.

                        1. re: rworange

                          There is also a taco truck parked at times in Berkeley at Hearst between 4th and 3rd. You have mentioned it before and it seems to serve the day laborers who wait around there. I tried it once and it was just OK. I don't think they are a threat to Tacubaya.

                          2 weekends ago, I saw an elote/raspado cart that wasset up in front of El Ojo de Agua and then move across the street in front of the Tamale Queen.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          There were actually three taco trucks and a raspado vendor near the flea market yesterday:

                          The one I mentioned above, parked at Coliseum Way and Julie Ann St., which is called La Rancharita. There was a Mi Grullense truck parked right next to it, and on the other side of the flea market there was an El Grullo truck at 50th and Coliseum Way. I'd seen an El Grullo truck earlier at its regular spot at 26th and International, so this is either a weekend location for the one at High and Foothill or a third El Grullo truck. I can't remember whether I'd seen both Mi Grullense trucks in the Goodwill lot, either.

                          The raspado vendor had a card table set up on 50th, with a sign pointing to it on Coliseum Way.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            "I haven't seen Tacos El Sol for a while, but it seems unlikely that lot will go taco truckless for long."

                            When I was by there the other day, there was a Tacos Zamorano truck in that spot -- it seems to have come full circle, since that was its original location (in the parking lot of their bricks-and-morter location at High and International).

                        3. Sweet! My printout with scrawls on it that I keep at work completely pales in comparison.

                          Now, I just need to (a) find good wifi hotspots so I can come down with my laptop over lunch and wander your suggestions, and (b) ditch my coworkers so I can try new places. Every time I drag them down they insist on El Novillo and El Ojo De Aqua.. which I see are both on your A list, but I'd like to have a bit more variety if I'm taking time off from work to come down.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Marc Wallace

                            Powderface just next to the BART station has a wifi hotspot, and I believe the World Coffee House/Tamale Queen across Fruitvale from El Ojo does, too.

                          2. I took a cruise down International Saturday and these trucks are still in these spots:

                            El Grullo International Blvd & 26th Ave
                            Guadalajara International Blvd & 44th Ave
                            La Pinata 720 High ST (at Coliseum Way)
                            Los Michoacanos taco truck 3541 International Blvd (near 35th)
                            Tacos La Perla International Blvd & 52nd Ave
                            Tacos Los Amigos 5401 International Blvd (corner of 54th)
                            Tacos Zamorano International Blvd & 48th Ave

                            Just shows how permanent those trucks really are -- I think I first surveyed all of those in the fall of 2001!

                            1. Wow, this is a fantastic post. I'm going to add your A category to my northern CA taco truck map, which started out in Sacramento but is now expanding down the valley and into the Bay Area. I'll post it in a week when I have a few dozen more added. Thanks!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hewn

                                Cool Looking forward to your map.

                                Here's some ideas for Richmond ... though the trucks aren't as good as Oakland and there are too many good Mexican restaurants in Richmond that are my first choice.

                                If you are ever in Salinas ....

                                ... which reminds me that I need to do a few updates there.

                                Nice to know that Sacto has taco trucks ... will be a good option when I'm on my way to Reno or Tahoe.

                              2. thank you! and the taco quest continues.

                                1. Is there a color code & symbols index for the map?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: larochelle

                                    Apparently there's no way to index -- I think the different symbols and colors were an attempt to make it easier to match the map points with the listings. Don't know if there's any further significance!

                                    In response to the comment that "there weren't as many trucks as estimated" I went out and mapped some new ones this weekend:

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Perhaps I was unclear - what do color/shapes of the map location symbols mean?

                                      For example, in my maps blue means untested, green means recommended, yellow means recommended with reservations and so on. FYI - I put that info in the description field which is below the title field.

                                      1. re: larochelle

                                        In this case, the color/symbol matches the color/symbol of the listing on the left column, so, for example, you if you're looking for Sinaloa you look for the blue push pin, but if you're looking for La Pinata you look for a pink push pin and if you're looking for El Ojo de Agua you look for the green bulb with a dot but if you're looking for Tacos Zamorano you look for the green bulb without a dot. I haven't checked, but I think each item on the map has a unique combination of symbol and color.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Yeah, that was the only color coding I used in this case was for each truck added I used a new color so it was a bit easier to match the map to the pin. I haven't tried most of these so I didn't go with recommendations, only that they are there.

                                          Ruth, thanks for the new truck post. I'll add those to the map. I'm kindof into Google maps and have been using them to organize my food notes ... by city or cuisine ... ie Santa Rosa restaurants and food .... North Bay farms ... those folks have had so many good suggestions I want to try. Now as I'm about to rush out the door I can do a quick look at my map and jot down what I want to try. Also a handy way to add new places to try. After all of the taco truck stuff ... haven't been back to that area yet ... but when I do get there ... I'm ready.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            I do love your map. Thanks for the hard work.

                                            You might want to google -- "google map icons" (or markers). I was able to find 0-99 and A-Z in many colors. It takes a little time to import them into your profile, but they make life sooo much easier. (FYI - rworange, I emailed you the ones that I found. It may or may not make it through your spam filter.)

                                            Anyway, I have made a number of food google maps, but have not yet published them 'cause I'm adding links, reviews & notes to the busines profiles. Eventually, I'll post them.

                                  2. This is great! Thanks so much for all your work in putting this together.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JoyM

                                      Thank you. However for those Oakland trucks, the majority come from rworange, above, so certainly thanks go to that person and not myself.

                                    2. Was out in West Oakland today and noticed that in addition to the Taco Barajitos on West Grand at Adeline, there was a La Perla truck (same truck? sister truck?) on West Grand just off Mandela Parkway. My companions opined that the Barajitos truck was better, which is not surprising considering I wasn't impressed by La Perla when I tried the International location. I got a carnitas taco and pollo asado taco at Barajitos. The carnitas was okay -- moist, but missing the browned/carmelized/crispy bits. I rarely order chicken tacos, but someone recommended the chicken here, and it was actually pretty good: the pieces of chicken were moist and under the light spice rub, actually tasted like chicken. Both tacos came with a slightly chunky bright green salsa. Anyone tried the chile verde from a Barajitos truck?